Although the work of general practitioners (GPs) with mental illness generally, particularly in relation to minor mental illness, has been extensively examined, there has been practically no work devoted to the role of GPs in assessment for compulsory admission, either under the 1959 or 1983 Acts. The notable exception is the work of Bean (1980), who is, in some respects, highly critical, accusing them of showing little interest in patients, referring at times inappropriately, committed to the rhetoric rather than reality of care and of knowing little or nothing of the law they were supposed to be using. Bean's work is, however, a study of the 1959 Act, and no research exists on the 1983 Act which now governs section assessments. This neglect of GPs is surprising, in view of the severe consequences of compulsory admissions (sections) and research on the use of the 1983 Act already available on other participating professionals (Sheppard, 1990; Rogers, 1989). GPs are likely to be professional instigators of section assessments as well as involved in the assessment itself.